When the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) announced the scrapping of the Sh.150 fixed cost charge on the Kenya Power electricity billing system on Monday, Kenyans were upbeat and ready to heave a little sigh of relief.
But as soon as Kenya Power effected the revised tariff rates on August 1, it came as a shocker to many middle-income consumers that the cost had actually gone up.
For instance, under the old tariff, a consumer would receive about 34 units for Sh500. But under the new tariff, that amount of money gives a consumer 22 units, indicating a 23 percent rise in electricity costs for prepaid consumers who use between 10 and 100 units per month
Only a minority of consumers who use less than 10 units and manufacturers who use over 1,500 units have been exempted from this daylight robbery.
Kenyans have since come out in numbers on social media platforms to criticise ERC for the added burden on power bills.
ERC has defended the new tariff structure saying that the overall unit cost inclusive of taxes and levies has decreased from Sh23.49/kWh in 2017/18 to Sh20.18/kWh 2018/19.
A case has since been filed against the commission seeking to stop Kenya Power company and the Energy Regulatory Commission from implementing the new billing structure.
Lawyer Apollo Mboya argues that the new billing structure discriminates against the poor and a significant majority of the domestic consumers while favoring the minority bulk power consumers such as manufacturers and companies.
According to Mboya, the move is a ploy by both Kenya Power and ERC to circumvent a court order which stopped them from recovering backdated bills amounting to Sh10.1 billion.
“Article 27 of the Constitution guarantees every person equal protection and equal benefit of the law and that the state shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any persons,” Mboya notes.
The lawyer also says that both KPLC and ERC have no constitutional mandate to review the tariffs.
Mboya, therefore, wants the court to suspend the implementation of the Electricity Retail Tariffs, pending hearing of the application.